Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.





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Friday, 30 January 2015

THE INNOCENT BABY AND THE CPS BATHWATER



Rape is probably the crime where very few thinking people have nothing to say; most have an opinion.  On that basis magistrates are no different from others.  The guidance issued by the CPS earlier this week seeks to increase the conviction rate for this offence; a conviction rate which is lower for sexual offences than other groups of indictable offences.  Between 2003 and 2013 the conviction rate for sexual offences increased from 46% to 58%.   There are probably as many opinions on all aspects of this crime as on most others put together.  This is hardly surprising.  The most natural human urge, allowed to find its outlet with little hindrance over millennia, has gradually been brought within the justice system of most nations over the last few hundred years.  However even today there are societies where it is extremely difficult if not impossible to secure conviction for this crime such are the impediments erected by the legal,  cultural or religious  overlords in such societies.  It is essential to differentiate between numbers of rapes reported to the authorities and figures for actual convictions.  Misleading statistics muddy the waters of this controversial topic. At one extreme conviction rates in Russia, China and Japan are  around 90% or higher. In Sweden much is made of the number of reported rapes and the low conviction rates.   There is a very strong argument that the type of society in which this offence is committed is an indicator of the likely conviction rate.   India and Pakistan are examples.



This post is not to argue about statistics.  My impression after many years absorbing all the many changes to our justice system which reach right down to the lower court is that the target to increase  conviction rates has quite rightly tightened up procedures which allowed offenders to escape their due deserts.   But I feel that we are in great danger in throwing out the innocent  baby with the target bathwater in this regard.  Those accused of rape are now to some degree being required to prove their innocence.  How long before this philosophy is applied to other offences?

1 comment:

  1. Is this perhaps a good example of the importance of a jury based trial system where collective common sense can be brought to bear

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